Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Home Office Design 101 - Function

"Form follows function - that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union." ~ Frank Lloyd Wright 

Home Offices are first and foremost functional spaces. I believe they can be more than just function, and we'll be talking about that in the next post. However, without function, a home office really does fall flat. Let’s cover a few basics that you need to have in place for a functional home office. I’ll be using examples from a client home office project to walk us through the needs and some possible solutions.

The Project:

My client used a small corner of this music room/library as a home office.
The problems:
  1. Not nearly enough work space. 
  2. Storage was inadequate and hard to access.
  3. Room located just off of the foyer in a very public area of the home.
  4. Inadequate lighting.
  5. Confusing purpose of the room (for more on the changes to the music room, see this post).
My client, an empty-nester, had 2 childrens' rooms turned guest rooms in the home. She has frequent guests, but rarely used both guest rooms at once. We decided that saving a guest room for 2 nights per year while she suffered with an inadequate home office for 365 days just didn't make sense. We moved the home office into the smaller of the bedrooms. What about the guests? We placed the furniture against the walls so that a queen air mattress could be used in the center of the room to easily accommodate extra guests.

Functional Needs in a Home Office
Let's break down some of the functional needs in a home office and look at the solutions we found for this particular space.
Functional Need 1: Adequately-sized area with some privacy

Functional Need 2: Adequate work space with comfortable and supportive seating
Functional Need 3: Adequate storage space
We included a generously sized desk that can accomodate multiple functions at once. An attractive filing cabinet is next to the desk for often used papers and supplies. Infrequently used items are stored in the closet.

Functional Need 4: Good Lighting
 This room has wonderful daylight with 3 large windows. Unfortunately, the night lighting was poor with no overhead fixture to provide lighting. We had to create specific lighting zones to suit the functions. At the desk, we installed an over-sized swing arm lamp. It adjusts in 3 places, so can easily be directed toward the task as needed. We also added a floor lamp with 5 different settings at the reading area.

And finally, if you are fortunate to have a large home office, it's nice to create areas for functions other than a desk and some filing cabinets.  This might include a hobby or craft area, or a reading nook.

A reading nook should include a comfortable chair, with extra back support, if needed, a table for drinks and books, and good lighting. 

The next post will look at adding on to the functionality of a home office with how it looks and feels. 
Stay tuned.
Other posts in the Home Office Series.

Beautiful Habitat: Interior Design & Decoration

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